Norfolk Southern RR Bridge on the Pasquotank River, located 2 miles above Elizabeth City NC, is closed as of Saturday night . We heard a Coast Guard announcement today on VHF 16 saying the bridge is closed due to mechanical problems. After a train crossed the bridge this afternoon, they were unable to reopen the span. A contractor is due first thing in the Sunday morning April 15, and they “hope” to have the bridge open mid day. But for now assume it is inoperable.
There is a 5 foot shallow spot in the ICW about 0.3 miles south of G117A near Sullivans Island, SC. Heading south last November we found the shoal and marked it on our charts. Coming north March 28, I was looking for it to get an update. I was proceeding at about 4 knots because the state of the tide was 0.1 foot below MLLW (Mean Lower Low Water), and we draw 4.5 feet. A sailboat from Maine was catching up to me. I called him on the VHF to let him know there was a shoal ahead. He said he was well aware of it. He had been through here before. It always gets shallow there, bla, bla, bla, etc. Anyway, as I come up to the shoal, my chart indicates that a move to starboard will keep me in 8 feet of water and I’ll miss the shoal. As I moved to starboard, the other boat saw his opening and made his move. If I was going 4kt, then he must have been going at least 6 when he hit that shoal not 2 boat lengths in front of me and came to a stop. He draws 5’3”. So, anyone going through the ICW near Sullivans island mark you charts with a waypoint at 3247.107 N and 079 48.825W. There is a 5-foot shoal there. It as blue bottom paint marking it now.
Pay close attention as you cross the New River. This is a really deceptive trouble spot. This ICW inlet crossing is both visually confusing and has a significant shoal. Visually, whether you are northbound or southbound N”12A” appears to line up with the Red ICW aids. The ICW aids are numbered 70, 72, 74, and 76. Unless you are watching the marks and reading off the numbers you will be lulled into running over to N “12A” thinking it is the mark where you turn. This will put you aground on the shoal which has built across the ICW from the north. This shoal carries 2 or 3 feet at low tide and about 6 feet at high tide. Some boats clear the shoal at high tide and have no idea that they nearly grounded. This a particular hazard to sailboats who may follow a powerboat and see it urn the corner and then suddenly find themselves hard around. The USCG has placed RN “72A” to mark the shoal. Whether northbound or Southbound you must “dip” to the south to regard RN “72A”. The waypoints are in listed the enclosed chart.
St. Andrews Sound. This sound is to be respected. It is often rolly with swells coming in off the ocean. When there is a strong east wind and outgoing current, it is not unusual to see 4 foot waves at times. If the conditions are poor on your northbound leg, stay an extra day at Fernandina Beach or Cumberland Island. If southbound spend a day or two at Jekyll Harbor Marina and let the conditions improve. Jekyll Island is beautiful. It is easy to bike and explore. The marina has a golf cart for transients to borrow. CAUTION: R30 and G31 are not where they are shown on the charts. They appear to be located more or less in the same place that we saw them in November. The attached chart (Excerpt from NOAA chart 11491 updated 02/03/2018) shows their approximate locations. R30 is near 30 59.880N, 081 24.920W . G31 is near 30 59.522N and 081 24.710W. We passed to the east of both of them and rounded the corner near R32 by 0.39 nautical miles. We had +7.8 feet of tide help and consistently saw depths over 15 feet. The NOAA sounding and the Navionics sonar chart agree that there is 7+ feet in this area at MLLW.
The good news here is that although the channel shifted after the 2017 hurricanes, the water is deep! The bad news here is that G47A and G47 are both missing. If you have updated your charts their expected location will be found on the chart. If you drive your boat through here following the aids to navigation as shown on the charts you will see water depths greater than 10 feet all the way through here. When you get over near R36 be prepared to experience cross setting current!
16. South of McClellanville STM 430 to STM 435 This long-standing shoal stretch has not dredged itself. It seem to be filling in at a slow rate, and in the past year has shoaled another 3-6 inches.
(Feb. 29, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico) Spent the day on the boat plugging away at the list. The water hoses are all replaced, the tanks were cleaned just recently, and the whole system is smelling and tasting wonderful again. Feels good to start fresh.